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Sunday, September 15, 2013

So hard to clear debt

The Sunday Times
Rachael Boon

Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS), which helps people stuck in the red, said that about 70 per cent of people with debts to clear are aged between 30 and 50.

And the average amount owed by those whom the non-profit agency helps is about $83,000. Given their average monthly income of $3,100, these people can be stuck in debt for more than two years while they try to get their heads above water.

These are among the most vulnerable individuals who stand to benefit from new Monetary Authority of Singapore curbs on unsecured loans.

DBS Bank's head of cards and unsecured loans, Mr Anthony Seow, said that those who do not repay their credit card bills or loans on time tend to be younger.

"They don't make that much so just one other big expense might affect the repayment for that month," he said.

He noted that many who fall into debt with credit cards and personal credit lines are not really reckless spenders.

Bankers say those who resort to unsecured loans - the main type of lending targeted by the new rules - do so for emergency medical expenses, travel and home furnishing.

Industry players estimate that credit card holders have an average of five or six cards in their wallet.

A 46-year-old man who works in IT finally paid off his $65,000 debt last month.

He said: "Ask yourself, is it worth it to take the risk?

"I don't have the desire to spend or gamble off a few hundred dollars in one shot. If you win, never mind, but what if you don't?"

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